[UPDATE] Libya Oil Production Falls Drastically

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

[UPDATE] 3-13 4:18 PM --

CAIRO (AP) -- Libya's de facto oil minister says the country's crude production has fallen "drastically" as Moammar Gadhafi's forces battle to regain control over ports, towns and oil facilities along the Mediterranean coast.

The minister says he's asked an Italian oil company for help in putting out a big fire at the Ras Lanouf oil facility. Government forces reclaimed control of the port from rebel fighters this weekend.

Libyan state television is reporting that all ports are now in government hands, and that workers should resume their posts. It also called on security forces to guard the facilities.

But it remains unclear how much oil is being produced in Libya, or exported from the country. Despite the state television report, at least two main ports are still in rebel hands.

International sanctions on the country have seriously sapped the appetite for Libyan crude given the difficulties getting payments.


New York, NY (AP) - Stocks are finishing lower as higher oil prices
weighed on the market.

Oil hit a two-year high early in the day, nearing $107 a barrel, after forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi launched airstrikes against opposition fighters at an oil port. Benchmark West Texas crude gained $1.02 to settle at $105.44 per barrel.

A sustained rise in the price of oil could hurt the economic recovery by raising transportation costs.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 80 points, or 0.7 percent, to close at 12,090.

The S&P 500 index fell 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,310. The Nasdaq fell 39 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,745.

More than three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was 1 billion shares.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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